The United States and its allies will soon hear whether –once again—Iran will end its nuclear weapons search, masquerading now as a nuclear energy program.
What will happen? What should happen?
Two old headlines give us some clues. Seven years after the Israelis destroyed the Syrian Al-Kibar nuclear reactor, the regime in Damascus continues to stonewall the International Atomic Energy Administration. And 20 years after a supposed breakthrough agreement with North Korea, a “breathtaking” (as it was described when discovered) uranium enrichment program continues apace as does Pyongyang’s rocket launch and nuclear warhead programs.
Iran specializes in playing diplomatic rope-a-dope, too. Its allies in China continue to supply it with missile and apparently some nuclear technology. Documents appear to confirm the previous sale of BM-25 rockets to Iran from North Korea. These missiles have a 4000 kilometer range. Iran may now be capable of targeting Western Europe. The USAF says Iran will have the ability to launch an ICBM, or intercontinental ballistic missile, by 2015 along with an attached weapon, perhaps a nuclear device. But these missile capabilities are not for discussion.
Brazil and Turkey, with the tacit support of China, called previously for reprocessing some of Iran’s enriched uranium for medical isotopes. That proposal may be resurrected if the hoped for “deal” does not pan out. A variation of this will include a repeat of the October 2009 proposal to move some significant portion of Iran’s enriched material out of the country to Russia, for example, also for reprocessing into medical isotopes. More rope-a-dope.
What will happen next week? It may depend on how hard the bite is of the economic sanctions currently in place and how serious Tehran thinks we are to keep them in place or even strengthen them. The sanctions are far less severe than they were and Iran’s economy is as a result doing far better. Various companies are shamefully drooling at the prospect of new business with Iran once sanctions are removed.
Will these sanctions stay in place and include the current coalition? What about Venezuela using its banking system to help Iran evade what sanctions remain? Wouldn’t Keystone allow us to back out Venezuelan oil and use Canadian crude? If the talks do not succeed, how serious will the “international community” be, under the assumption there is such a community, in hanging tough? And most importantly, how serious will Tehran take America’s ability—should it come to that– to give “em a whooping” they richly deserve in the absence of a deal?
Apparently the US has still only met “in part” the “international test” required by our allies to get serious about the Iranian threat. Some have expressed very serious concern but too many have given Tehran a wink and a nod. One key Middle East nation recommended years ago that we “cut off the head of the snake”. Serious talk yes but did we take the advice?
Others apparently pray Israel will save the day by using military force to destroy as much of the Iranian nuclear program as possible. A former US Secretary of Defense says that would delay an Iranian nuclear program for a few years but not much more.
To the extent the international sanctions continue against Iran and are seriously enforced, the Tehran regime may be forced for fear of even stronger sanctions to keep “limits” on their enrichment facilities. But at he very least a robust enrichment capability will remain plus all other unknown military work because we have made it a “right” of Iran to possess such enrichment technology and Tehran continues to stonewall legitimate attempts to ascertain its past and current nuclear military activities .
Even as Iran remains a state described by our own State department as the premier sponsor of terrorism in the world today.
Even as Iran kills American and coalition soldiers in Afghanistan.
Even as Iran, allied with Syria and Hezbollah, seek to further destroy whatever independence remains of the government of Lebanon while helping to butcher 200,000 Syrians next store.
Even as Iran seeks to destroy Israel, arming Hamas with thousands of rockets.
Part of our problem is our belief in a totally false narrative.
First, we repeatedly describe Tehran as a “deal partner”, just as we viewed Syria as a potential “peace partner”.
Second, we continue to believe terrorism is primarily caused by legitimate grievances held by the “Arab street” most importantly the lack of a Palestinian state.
Third, we do not understand that a poisonous coalition of states, intelligence services, terror groups, shadowy financiers and jihadi recruitment centers camouflaged as mosques and madrassas, are at war with us, supported and directed in part by Iran.
Fourth, we continue to believe that most terrorist attacks directed at the US have been carried out by loose bands of individuals angry at our culture, power and foreign policy, randomly attacking targets of convenience.
What we have forgotten is much like the Cold War, terrorism is a tactic as part of a strategy implementing a policy directed against the West and NATO and its allies, including Israel, with the goal of achieving not only hegemonic aims but also driving out US influence in the region, with the ultimate prize being 70% of the conventional hydrocarbons needed to run the industrialized world.
As my friend Angelo Codevilla explains in his newest essay, (“The Gathering Storm” in the Fall 2014 Claremont Review of Books from which I copied the title of this essay), “No surprise that, for more than a generation, those who enable and encourage terrorism against America have had reason to believe they hold a winning hand. So long as the Soviet Union lasted, Americans who feared confronting terrorism’s ultimate backer argued that doing so risked nuclear war.”
He continues: “By 1991, however, the Soviet Union had died of its congenital diseases and anti-American terrorism was so widespread, and had proved to be so safe and profitable (today, American taxpayers finance the PLO’s schools even as their textbooks teach hate for America), that any number of regimes were supporting it in some way.”
But Beirut, Lockerbie, Berlin, Oklahoma City, Long Island, World Trade Center 93 and 2001, to name but the most notable terror attacks, were all serious attacks. And they were nearly all carried out by state sponsors of terrorism, using terror groups as accomplices. This form of warfare is not new, having been perfected by the Soviets throughout the Cold War. It is warfare without attribution. It is to circle around one’s enemies and undo the power of deterrence.
Again as Codevilla warns us, “Our ruling class has assumed that terrorism is the work of ‘rogues’ and that most if not all religions, nations, cultures, and subcultures are fundamentally inclined to peace and international order.”
He further explains failing to secure an end to Iran’s terror and search for nuclear weapons, “If we are serious about all this, we should unplug Iran from the world’s economy. If you do business with Iran, you and your associated companies, banks, oil tankers, industrial firms, shipping fleets do not do business with America.
And that means China. In addition, a successful completion of the liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan would significantly strengthen the forces arrayed on Iran’s borders opposed to its terrorist ways. So that has to be part of a successful US policy.
As we stand in the way of Tehran’s hegemonic goals, people mistake Iran’s behavior as a response to US “threats”. Not unlike North Korea’s refrain that is only the US “hostile policy” that is responsible for Pyongyang’s murderous actions, Iran will no doubt continue to claim the same.
As a country, however, our policy decision comes down to this: do we or do we not seek to remove the regime entirely. Or do we “cut the grass”, so to speak, accepting incremental change that while viewed as steps in the right direction are actually nothing more than a tepid response to Iran’s slick diplomatic rope-a-dope that gives Tehran the time it needs to develop a nuclear capability.